Alleged Years-Long Child Abuse by DCS Manager, Sheriff’s Employee Prompts Lawsuit Against DCS And Cochise County

Monica, Jade, and Brian Campbell attend a hearing at the Cochise County Superior Court. [Photo by Terri Jo Neff]

Four adoptive children of a former state child welfare manager and a former sheriff’s dispatch supervisor are suing their parents’ onetime employers for failing to properly investigate multiple reports of abuse in the home from 2012 to 2018.

Brian Campbell was a case manager for the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) while Monica Campbell was a longtime 911 dispatcher for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). The couple are awaiting trial next year on several felony child abuse charges involving the four children they adopted, including the use of a Taser on one of the kids in a July 2018 incident captured on video.

Public records reveal both DCS and CCSO were aware of reports of abuse in the Campbell home, but a Nov. 24 lawsuit alleges the children’s’ claims were not properly investigated. A notice of claim demanding $4 million for each child was denied earlier this year by Cochise County and the State, leading to the lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights—and indeed basic human rights—to reasonable safety and freedom from harm were violated by the State’s and County’s failure to follow their own statutory and mandated rules and regulations to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect, and the failure of the State and the County to promulgate proper rules, regulations, practices, policies, and procedures to protect children,” the lawsuit states.

Lynne Cadigan is one of the attorneys representing the four children, two of whom are now young adults, in the civil action. She also serves as victim representative for the four in the criminal prosecutions.

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“It is shocking that public employees, paid with our tax dollars to protect children, can abuse their own children for years and get away with it,” Cadigan told Arizona Daily Independent. “The public employees responsible for this conspiracy and coverup of abuse must be held accountable.”

The Campbells are also named as defendants in the lawsuit. Earlier this year they voluntarily severed their parental rights to the four children.

“Plaintiffs will require significant psychiatric and psychological care for the duration of their lives as a result of the intentional, reckless, negligent, and grossly negligent acts and omissions of the Defendants as described herein,” the lawsuit states.

The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit and calls to DCS were not returned before press time.

Public attention was drawn on the Campbell household in July 2018 when Monica Campbell called 911 to report one of the boys threatened to harm the family. The CCSO deputy who responded was told Brian Campbell held the boy down and Tasered him in order to protect the family.

However, Brian Campbell was arrested after the deputy reviewed surveillance video from inside the house which showed the father first punched the much smaller youth and then held the boy down on the floor. Several minutes later the boy was Tasered while still restrained on the floor.

A CCSO detective later expanded the investigation after hearing other abuse allegations. Monica Campbell is currently charged with 11 felonies including aggravated assault, child abuse, and endangerment, while Brian Campbell is charged with six felonies, two of which involve the Taser incident.

Jade Campbell, one of Brian and Monica’s biological children, is also charged with two felonies in connection to the Taser incident. She is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

A settlement conference will be held next month in an effort to resolve the three criminal cases without a trial. But if the cases go to trial, Brian Campbell will be prohibited from invoking spousal privilege to avoid testifying against his wife’s actions toward the children.

A criminal trial would also draw attention to the actions taken by various CCSO and DCS personnel who had contact with the family since 2012, something Cadigan says will be helpful in the lawsuit to demonstrate that state and county officials were negligent in the supervision of the Campbells, Sheriff Mark Dannels, and CCSO Sgt. Louie Tartaglia Jr.

Public records show Tartaglia Jr. was involved in many of the calls for service involving the Campbell family. One call noted in the lawsuit occurred in December 2016 when one of the sons told a high school counselor about abuse at home.

Deputy Nelson Moreno responded to the school and noted in his report that the boy feared going home. The boy also described being forced to stand naked in the home and said one of his sisters had been choked by Monica Campbell.

Moreno noted the sister denied being abused but the deputy became concerned enough to have a DCS caseworker respond. His report also describes what happened when Monica Campbell arrived at the school.

“Sgt. Tartaglia then asked me to exit the room and I was also told to return to (other duties),” Moreno wrote. “Sgt. Tartaglia later informed me Ms. Campbell would be taking her children home, to not discuss this matter with anyone, and to write this report.”

Moreno resigned from CCSO the next year.

The lawsuit also alleges CCSO took no steps to seize the home surveillance video of the 2018 Taser incident until Tartaglia applied for a search warrant two months later. Public records show Tartaglia reported the footage had either been destroyed or recorded over by that time.